Sometimes it is a day or a week and sometimes it is a season. It may be tough at times to pin the blues to any one thing. When those times strike, we may pull ourselves inward to cover up our emotions and weak moments. Depression, along with the sheer despair and loneliness that comes with it, is one of those delicate issues that we don’t address enough as communities. The Covid-19 pandemic, with the prolonged social isolation that it enforced on most of us, made depression an even more serious threat, since humans are social being that thrive on meaningful family and social connections.
The fact that this is a silent epidemic is evidenced by World Population Review statistics that say that depression affects about 1 in 15 adults in any given year, and 1 in 6 people will experience depression at some time in their life. An even more sobering figure is the one put out by WHO in 2021, which reported that 700,000 people die due to suicide every year, showing the fact that overcoming the blues may be relatively harder for some of us. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-19 year olds. There is a general stigma surrounding depression and suicidal thoughts, due to which people find it very hard to address. The truth is depression is a mental health condition and may need professional counselling or even medical intervention. It may be triggered by any of the negative stressors that we so often encounter in life.
It is very natural to feel like shutting off from people when we go through depression. It is very important to overcome this urge, and to find safe people and communities where we can let down our guard and be open. Talking openly about such issues is not a sign of weakness; on the contrary, it is evidence of great inner strength and courage. If we find ourselves going through depression, we can be sure that we aren’t alone. Once we decide to speak openly about such battles, it will make others comfortable about sharing their own struggles, thus building communities of mutual care and support. If we ourselves are not going through it, it is important that we do our bit to remove the social stigma surrounding mental health issues. We can start by just lending our ear to someone sharing their problems. It is important to do so respectfully, without trivializing the issues that the person may be facing even if they seem small to us. Just being available and being a shoulder to cry on can be the least but most important thing that one can do for a person trying to deal with depression. Most importantly, we can be catalysts in starting healthy conversations about mental wellbeing, and the importance of finding good professional help at the right time. This can greatly ease the deep shame that people feel in seeking such help, especially in traditional cultures.
As much as such times remind us of the need to invest in physical, mental and emotional upkeep, they also point us towards the deeper spiritual longings that we all find within ourselves. The Bible defines this as the void that we humans experience when we lack an intimate relationship with our Creator God. Of course, this is not to say that people who do experience such a relationship in all its intimacy do not go through despair and depression. The Bible is, in fact, filled with examples of people who walked closely with God and went through profound despair at various points in their lives. But the sheer vantage point that these people enjoyed is the ability to honestly vent these feelings before God, and find a compassionate and sympathetic friend and father in him. And in Jesus, God not only revealed himself as sympathizing with us, but became human, going to the extent of experiencing the deepest despair and loneliness at the cross. This is why the Bible encourages us to run to Jesus in our weakest moments, because he not only understands but also identifies with us perfectly. If you are a person going through a hard season in life or feeling depressed, and would like to know more of what we are talking about, feel free to DM us. Hopefully, we can not only tell you more, but also connect you to safe spaces and communities of fellow-strugglers.